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Press Release

Human smuggling recruiter sentenced for conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

LAREDO, Texas – A 58-year-old Chandler woman has been ordered to federal prison for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Maria Rivera-Maldonado pleaded guilty Sept. 18, 2020.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered her to serve a 60-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, Judge Marmolejo noted Rivera-Maldonado played an active role in recruiting the truck drivers to help carry out the scheme.

On July 3, 2020, law enforcement discovered 52 undocumented non-citizens after stopping a tractor trailer in Laredo. Authorities arrested Rivera-Maldonado as the driver of a scout vehicle for the tractor trailer.

Further investigation revealed Rivera-Maldonado recruited truck drivers to travel to Laredo to smuggle undocumented non-citizens. The investigation revealed that from March 2019 to July 2020, drivers Rivera-Maldonado recruited smuggled over 100 undocumented non-citizens in their vehicles.

Rivera-Maldonado will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Garrie Brown prosecuted the case.

Updated August 4, 2021

Human Smuggling